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Peace Theories and the Balkan War
by Norman Angell
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PEACE THEORIES AND THE BALKAN WAR

BY

NORMAN ANGELL

Author of "The Great Illusion"

1912



PEACE THEORIES AND THE BALKAN WAR

By NORMAN ANGELL,

Author of "The Great Illusion."

1912



THE TEXT OF THIS BOOK.

Whether we blame the belligerents or criticise the powers, or sit in sackcloth and ashes ourselves is absolutely of no consequence at the present moment....

We have sometimes been assured by persons who profess to know that the danger of war has become an illusion.... Well, here is a war which has broken out in spite of all that rulers and diplomatists could do to prevent it, a war in which the Press has had no part, a war which the whole force of the money power has been subtly and steadfastly directed to prevent, which has come upon us, not through the ignorance or credulity of the people, but, on the contrary, through their knowledge of their history and their destiny, and through their intense realisation of their wrongs and of their duties, as they conceived them, a war which from all these causes has burst upon us with all the force of a spontaneous explosion, and which in strife and destruction has carried all before it. Face to face with this manifestation, who is the man bold enough to say that force is never a remedy? Who is the man who is foolish enough to say that martial virtues do not play a vital part in the health and honour of every people? (Cheers.) Who is the man who is vain enough to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians and ambassadors?—MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL at Sheffield.

Mr. Norman Angell's theory was one to enable the citizens of this country to sleep quietly, and to lull into false security the citizens of all great countries. That is undoubtedly the reason why he met with so much success.... It was a very comfortable theory for those nations which have grown rich and whose ideals and initiative have been sapped by over much prosperity. But the great delusion of Norman Angell, which led to the writing of "The Great Illusion," has been dispelled for ever by the Balkan League. In this connection it is of value to quote the words of Mr. Winston Churchill, which give very adequately the reality as opposed to theory.—The Review of Reviews, from an article on "The Debacle of Norman Angell."

And an odd score of like pronouncements from newspapers and public men since the outbreak of the Balkan War.

The interrogations they imply have been put definitely in the first chapter of this book; the replies to those questions summarised in that chapter and elaborated in the others.



The "key" to this book and the summary of its arguments are contained in Chapter I. (pp. 7-12)



CONTENTS.

I. The Questions and their Answers

II. "Peace" and "War" in the Balkans

III. Economic Causes in the Balkan War

IV. Turkish Ideals in our Political Thought

V. Our Responsibility for Balkan Wars

VI. Pacifism, Defence, and the "Impossibility of War"

VII. "Theories" False and True; their Role in European Politics

VIII. What Shall we DO?



CHAPTER I.

THE QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWER.

CHAPTER II.

"PEACE" AND "WAR" IN THE BALKANS.

"Peace" in the Balkans under the Turkish System—The inadequacy of our terms—The repulsion of the Turkish invasion—The Christian effort to bring the reign of force and conquest to an end—The difference between action designed to settle relationship on force and counter action designed to prevent such settlement—The force of the policeman and the force of the brigand—The failure of conquest as exemplified by the Turk—Will the Balkan peoples prove Pacifist or Bellicist; adopt the Turkish or the Christian System?

CHAPTER III.

ECONOMICS AND THE BALKAN WAR.

The "economic system" of the Turk—The Turkish "Trade of Conquest" as a cause of this war—Racial and Religious hatred of primitive societies—Industrialism as a solvent—Its operation in Europe—Balkans geographically remote from main drift of European economic development—The false economies of the Powers as a cause of their jealousies and quarrels—- This has prevented settlement—What is the "economic motive"?—Impossible to separate moral and material—Nationality and the War System.

CHAPTER IV.

TURKISH IDEALS IN OUR POLITICAL THOUGHT.

This war and "the Turks of Britain and Prussia"—The Anglo-Saxon and opposed ideals—Mr. C. Chesterton's case for "killing and being killed" as the best method of settling differences—Its application to Civil Conflicts—As in Spanish-America—The difference between Devonshire and Venezuela—Will the Balkans adopt the Turco-Venezuelan political ideals or the British?

CHAPTER V.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR BALKAN WARS.

Mr. Winston Churchill on the "Responsibility" of Diplomacy—What does he mean?—An easy (and popular) philosophy—Can we neglect past if we would avoid future errors?—British temper and policy in the Crimean War—What are its lessons?—Why we fought a war to sustain the "integrity and independence of the Turkish dominion in Europe"—Supporting the Turk against his Christian victims—From fear of Russian growth which we are now aiding—The commentary of events—Shall we back the wrong horse again?

CHAPTER VI.

PACIFISM, DEFENCE, AND "THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF WAR."

Did the Crimean War prove Bright and Cobden wrong?—Our curious reasoning—Mr. Churchill on "illusions"—The danger of war is not the illusion but its benefits—We are all Pacifists now since we all desire Peace—Will more armaments alone secure it?—The experience of mankind—War "the failure of human wisdom"—Therefore more wisdom is the remedy—But the Militarists only want more arms—The German Lord Roberts—The military campaign against political Rationalism—How to make war certain.

CHAPTER VII.

"THEORIES" FALSE AND TRUE: THEIR ROLE IN EUROPEAN PROGRESS.

The improvement of ideas the foundation of all improvement—Shooting straight and thinking straight; the one as important as the other—Pacifism and the Millennium—How we got rid of wars of religion—A few ideas have changed the face of the world—The simple ideas the most important—The "theories" which have led to war—The work of the reformer to destroy old and false theories—The intellectual interdependence of nations—Europe at unity in this matter—New ideas cannot be confined to one people—No fear of ourselves or any nation being ahead of the rest.

CHAPTER VIII.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

We must have the right political faith—Then we must give effect to it—Good intention not enough—The organization of the great forces of modern life—Our indifference as to the foundations of the evil—The only hope.



CHAPTER I.

THE QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWER.

What has Pacifism, Old or New, to say now?

Is War impossible?

Is it unlikely?

Is it futile?

Is not force a remedy, and at times the only remedy?

Could any remedy have been devised on the whole so conclusive and complete as that used by the Balkan peoples?

Have not the Balkan peoples redeemed War from the charges too readily brought against it as simply an instrument of barbarism?

Have questions of profit and loss, economic considerations, anything whatever to do with this war?

Would the demonstration of its economic futility have kept the peace?

Are theories and logic of the slightest use, since force alone can determine the issue?

Is not war therefore inevitable, and must we not prepare diligently for it? I will answer all these questions quite simply and directly without casuistry and logic-chopping, and honestly desiring to avoid paradox and "cleverness." And these quite simple answers will not be in contradiction with anything that I have written, nor will they invalidate any of the principles I have attempted to explain.

And my answers may be summarised thus:—

(1) This war has justified both the Old Pacifism and the New. By universal admission events have proved that the Pacifists who opposed the Crimean War were right and their opponents wrong. Had public opinion given more consideration to those Pacifist principles, this country would not have "backed the wrong horse," and this war, two wars which have preceded it, and many of the abominations of which the Balkan peninsular has been the scene during the last 60 years might have been avoided, and in any case Great Britain would not now carry upon her shoulders the responsibility of having during half a century supported the Turk against the Christian and of having tried uselessly to prevent what has now taken place—the break-up of the Turk's rule in Europe.

(2) War is not impossible, and no responsible Pacifist ever said it was; it is not the likelihood of war which is the illusion, but its benefits.

(3) It is likely or unlikely according as the parties to a dispute are guided by wisdom or folly.

(4) It is futile; and force is no remedy.

(5) Its futility is proven by the war waged daily by the Turks as conquerors, during the last 400 years. And because the Balkan peoples have chosen the less evil of two kinds of war, and will use their victory to bring a system based on force and conquest to an end, we who do not believe in force and conquest rejoice in their action, and believe it will achieve immense benefits. But if instead of using their victory to eliminate force, they in their turn pin their faith to it, continue to use it the one against the other, exploiting by its means the populations they rule, and become not the organisers of social co-operation among the Balkan populations, but merely, like the Turks, their conquerors and "owners," then they in their turn will share the fate of the Turk.

(6) The fundamental causes of this war are economic in the narrower, as well as in the larger sense of the term; in the first because conquest was the Turk's only trade—he desired to live out of taxes wrung from a conquered people, to exploit them as a means of livelihood, and this conception was at the bottom of most of Turkish misgovernment. And in the larger sense its cause is economic because in the Balkans, remote geographically from the main drift of European economic development, there has not grown up that interdependent social life, the innumerable contacts which in the rest of Europe have done so much to attenuate primitive religious and racial hatreds.

(7) A better understanding by the Turk of the real nature of civilised government, of the economic futility of conquest of the fact that a means of livelihood (an economic system), based upon having more force than someone else and using it ruthlessly against him, is an impossible form of human relationship bound to break down, would have kept the peace.

(8) If European statecraft had not been animated by false conceptions, largely economic in origin, based upon a belief in the necessary rivalry of states, the advantages of preponderant force and conquest, the Western nations could have composed their quarrels and ended the abominations of the Balkan peninsula long ago—even in the opinion of the Times. And it is our own false statecraft—that of Great Britain—which has a large part of the responsibility for this failure of European civilisation. It has caused us to sustain the Turk in Europe, to fight a great and popular war with that aim, and led us into treaties which had they been kept, would have obliged us to fight to-day on the side of the Turk against the Balkan States.

(9) If by "theories" and "logic" is meant the discussion of and interest in principles, the ideas that govern human relationship, they are the only things that can prevent future wars, just as they were the only things that brought religious wars to an end—a preponderant power "imposing" peace playing no role therein. Just as it was false religious theories which made the religious wars, so it is false political theories which make the political wars.

(10) War is only inevitable in the sense that other forms of error and passion—religious persecution for instance—are inevitable; they cease with better understanding, as the attempt to impose religious belief by force has ceased in Europe.

(11) We should not prepare for war; we should prepare to prevent war; and though that preparation may include battleships and conscription, those elements will quite obviously make the tension and danger greater unless there is also a better European opinion.

These summarised replies need a little expansion.



CHAPTER II.

"PEACE" AND "WAR" IN THE BALKANS.

"Peace" in the Balkans under the Turkish System—The inadequacy of our terms—The repulsion of the Turkish invasion—The Christian effort to bring the reign of force and conquest to an end—The difference between action designed to settle relationship on force and counter action designed to prevent such settlement—The force of the policeman and the force of the brigand—The failure of conquest as exemplified by the Turk—Will the Balkan peoples prove Pacifist or Bellicist; adopt the Turkish or the Christian System?

Had we thrashed out the question of war and peace as we must finally, it would hardly be necessary to explain that the apparent paradox in Answer No. 4 (that war is futile, and that this war will have immense benefits) is due to the inadequacy of our language, which compels us to use the same word for two opposed purposes, not to any real contradiction of fact.

We called the condition of the Balkan peninsula "Peace" until the other day, merely because the respective Ambassadors still happened to be resident in the capitals to which they were accredited.

Let us see what "Peace" under Turkish rule really meant, and who is the real invader in this war. Here is a very friendly and impartial witness—Sir Charles Elliot—who paints for us the character of the Turk as an "administrator":—

"The Turk in Europe has an overweening sense of his superiority, and remains a nation apart, mixing little with the conquered populations, whose customs and ideas he tolerates, but makes little effort to understand. The expression indeed, 'Turkey in Europe' means indeed no more than 'England in Asia,' if used as a designation for India.... The Turks have done little to assimilate the people whom they have conquered, and still less, been assimilated by them. In the larger part of the Turkish dominions, the Turks themselves are in a minority.... The Turks certainly resent the dismemberment of their Empire, but not in the sense in which the French resent the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany. They would never use the word 'Turkey' or even its oriental equivalent, 'The High Country' in ordinary conversation. They would never say that Syria and Greece are parts of Turkey which have been detached, but merely that they are tributaries which have become independent, provinces once occupied by Turks where there are no Turks now. As soon as a province passes under another Government, the Turks find it the most natural thing in the world to leave it and go somewhere else. In the same spirit the Turk talks quite pleasantly of leaving Constantinople some day, he will go over to Asia and found another capital. One can hardly imagine Englishmen speaking like that of London, but they might conceivably speak so of Calcutta.... The Turk is a conqueror and nothing else. The history of the Turk is a catalogue of battles. His contributions to art, literature, science and religion, are practically nil. Their desire has not been to instruct, to improve, hardly even to govern, but simply to conquer.... The Turk makes nothing at all; he takes whatever he can get, as plunder or pillage. He lives in the houses which he finds, or which he orders to be built for him. In unfavourable circumstances he is a marauder. In favourable, a Grand Seigneur who thinks it his right to enjoy with grace and dignity all that the world can hold, but who will not lower himself by engaging in art, literature, trade or manufacture. Why should he, when there are other people to do these things for him. Indeed, it may be said that he takes from others even his religion, clothes, language, customs; there is hardly anything which is Turkish and not borrowed. The religion is Arabic; the language half Arabic and Persian; the literature almost entirely imitative; the art Persian or Byzantine; the costumes, in the Upper Classes and Army mostly European. There is nothing characteristic in manufacture or commerce, except an aversion to such pursuits. In fact, all occupations, except agriculture and military service are distasteful to the true Osmanli. He is not much of a merchant. He may keep a stall in a bazaar, but his operations are rarely undertaken on a scale which merits the name of commerce or finance. It is strange to observe how, when trade becomes active in any seaport, or upon the railway lines, the Osmanli retires and disappears, while Greeks, Armenians and Levantines thrive in his place. Neither does he much affect law, medicine or the learned professions. Such callings are followed by Moslims but they are apt to be of non-Turkish race. But though he does none of these things ... the Turk is a soldier. The moment a sword or rifle is put into his hands, he instinctively knows how to use it with effect, and feels at home in the ranks or on a horse. The Turkish Army is not so much a profession or an institution necessitated by the fears and aims of the Government as the quite normal state of the Turkish nation.... Every Turk is a born soldier, and adopts other pursuits chiefly because times are bad. When there is a question of fighting, if only in a riot, the stolid peasant wakes up and shows surprising power of finding organisation and expedients, and alas! a surprising ferocity. The ordinary Turk is an honest and good-humoured soul, kind to children and animals, and very patient; but when the fighting spirit comes on him, he becomes like the terrible warriors of the Huns or Henghis Khan, and slays, burns and ravages without mercy or discrimination."[1]

Such is the verdict of an instructed, travelled and observant English author and diplomatist, who lived among these people for many years, and who learned to like them, who studied them and their history. It does not differ, of course, appreciably, from what practically every student of the Turk has discovered: the Turk is the typical conqueror. As a nation, he has lived by the sword, and he is dying by the sword, because the sword, the mere exercise of force by one man or group of men upon another, conquest in other words, is an impossible form of human relationship.

And in order to maintain this evil form of relationship—its evil and futility is the whole basis of the principles I have attempted to illustrate—he has not even observed the rough chivalry of the brigand. The brigand, though he might knock men on the head, will refrain from having his force take the form of butchering women and disembowelling children. Not so the Turk. His attempt at Government will take the form of the obscene torture of children, of a bestial ferocity which is not a matter of dispute or exaggeration, but a thing to which scores, hundreds, thousands even of credible European, witnesses have testified. "The finest gentleman, sir, that ever butchered a woman or burned a village," is the phrase that Punch most justly puts into the mouth of the defender of our traditional Turcophil policy.

And this condition is "Peace," and the act which would put a stop to it is "War." It is the inexactitude and inadequacy of our language which creates much of the confusion of thought in this matter; we have the same term for action destined to achieve a given end and for a counter-action destined to prevent it.

Yet we manage, in other than the international field, in civil matters, to make the thing clear enough.

Once an American town was set light to by incendiaries, and was threatened with destruction. In order to save at least a part of it, the authorities deliberately burned down a block of buildings in the pathway of the fire. Would those incendiaries be entitled to say that the town authorities were incendiaries also, and "believed in setting light to towns?" Yet this is precisely the point of view of those who tax Pacifists with approving war because they approve the measure aimed at bringing it to an end.

Put it another way. You do not believe that force should determine the transfer of property or conformity to a creed, and I say to you: "Hand me your purse and conform to my creed or I kill you." You say: "Because I do not believe that force should settle these matters, I shall try and prevent it settling them, and therefore if you attack I shall resist; if I did not I should be allowing force to settle them." I attack; you resist and disarm me and say: "My force having neutralised yours, and the equilibrium being now established, I will hear any reasons you may have to urge for my paying you money; or any argument in favour of your creed. Reason, understanding, adjustment shall settle it." You would be a Pacifist. Or, if you deem that that word connotes non-resistance, though to the immense bulk of Pacifists it does not, you would be an anti-Bellicist to use a dreadful word coined by M. Emile Faguet in the discussion of this matter. If, however, you said: "Having disarmed you and established the equilibrium, I shall now upset it in my favour by taking your weapon and using it against you unless you hand me your purse and subscribe to my creed. I do this because force alone can determine issues, and because it is a law of life that the strong should eat up the weak." You would then be a Bellicist.

In the same way, when we prevent the brigand from carrying on his trade—taking wealth by force—it is not because we believe in force as a means of livelihood, but precisely because we do not. And if, in preventing the brigand from knocking out brains, we are compelled to knock out his brains, is it because we believe in knocking out people's brains? Or would we urge that to do so is the way to carry on a trade, or a nation, or a government, or make it the basis of human relationship?

In every civilised country, the basis of the relationship on which the community rests is this: no individual is allowed to settle his differences with another by force. But does this mean that if one threatens to take my purse, I am not allowed to use force to prevent it? That if he threatens to kill me, I am not to defend myself, because "the individual citizens are not allowed to settle their differences by force?" It is because of that, because the act of self-defence is an attempt to prevent the settlement of a difference by force, that the law justifies it.[2]

But the law would not justify me, if having disarmed my opponent, having neutralised his force by my own, and re-established the social equilibrium, I immediately proceeded to upset it, by asking him for his purse on pain of murder. I should then be settling the matter by force—I should then have ceased to be a Pacifist, and have become a Bellicist.

For that is the difference between the two conceptions: the Bellicist says: "Force alone can settle these matters; it is the final appeal; therefore fight it out. Let the best man win. When you have preponderant strength, impose your view; force the other man to your will; not because it is right, but because you are able to do so." It is the "excellent policy" which Lord Roberts attributes to Germany and approves.

We anti-Bellicists take an exactly contrary view. We say: "To fight it out settles nothing, since it is not a question of who is stronger, but of whose view is best, and as that is not always easy to establish, it is of the utmost importance in the interest of all parties, in the long run, to keep force out of it."

The former is the policy of the Turks. They have been obsessed with the idea that if only they had enough of physical force, ruthlessly exercised, they could solve the whole question of government, of existence for that matter, without troubling about social adjustment, understanding, equity, law, commerce; "blood and iron" were all that was needed. The success of that policy can now be judged.

And whether good or evil comes of the present war will depend upon whether the Balkan States are on the whole guided by the Bellicist principle or the opposed one. If having now momentarily eliminated force as between themselves, they re-introduce it, if the strongest, presumably Bulgaria, adopts Lord Roberts' "excellent policy" of striking because she has the preponderant force, enters upon a career of conquest of other members of the Balkan League, and the populations of the conquered territories, using them for exploitation by military force—why then there will be no settlement and this war will have accomplished nothing save futile waste and slaughter. For they will have taken under a new flag, the pathway of the Turk to savagery, degeneration, death.

But if on the other hand they are guided more by the Pacifist principle, if they believe that co-operation between States is better than conflict between them, if they believe that the common interest of all in good Government is greater than the special interest of any one in conquest, that the understanding of human relationships, the capacity for the organisation of society are the means by which men progress, and not the imposition of force by one man or group upon another, why, they will have taken the pathway to better civilisation. But then they will have disregarded Lord Roberts' advice.

And this distinction between the two systems, far from being a matter of abstract theory of metaphysics or logic chopping, is just the difference which distinguishes the Briton from the Turk, which distinguishes Britain from Turkey. The Turk has just as much physical vigour as the Briton, is just as virile, manly and military. The Turk has the same raw materials of Nature, soil and water. There is no difference in the capacity for the exercise of physical force—or if there is, the difference is in favour of the Turk. The real difference is a difference of ideas, of mind and outlook on the part of the individuals composing the respective societies; the Turk has one general conception of human society and the code and principles upon which it is founded, mainly a militarist one; and the Englishman has another, mainly a Pacifist one. And whether the European society as a whole is to drift towards the Turkish ideal or towards the English ideal will depend upon whether it is animated mainly by the Pacifist or mainly by the Bellicist doctrine; if the former, it will stagger blindly like the Turk along the path to barbarism; if the latter, it will take a better road.

[Footnote 1: "Turkey in Europe," pp. 88-9 and 91-2.

It is significant, by the way, that the "born soldier" has now been crushed by a non-military race whom he has always despised as having no military tradition. Capt. F.W. von Herbert ("Bye Paths in the Balkans") wrote (some years before the present war): "The Bulgars as Christian subjects of Turkey exempt from military service, have tilled the ground under stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions, and the profession of arms is new to them."

"Stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions" is, in view of subsequent events distinctly good.]

[Footnote 2: I dislike to weary the reader with such damnable iteration, but when a Cabinet Minister is unable in this discussion to distinguish between the folly of a thing and its possibility, one must make the fundamental point clear.]



CHAPTER III.

ECONOMICS AND THE BALKAN WAR.

The "economic system" of the Turk—The Turkish "Trade of Conquest" as a cause of this war—Racial and Religious hatred of primitive societies—Industrialism as a solvent—Its operation in Europe—Balkans geographically remote from main drift of European economic development—The false economies of the Powers as a cause of their jealousies and quarrels—This has prevented settlement—What is the "economic motive"?—Impossible to separate moral and material—Nationality and the War System.

In dealing with answer No. 4 I have shown how the inadequacy of our language leads us so much astray in our notions of the real role of force in human relationships. But there is a curious phenomenon of thought which explains perhaps still more how misconceptions grow up on this subject, and that is the habit of thinking of a war which, of course, must include two parties, in terms, solely of one party at a time. Thus one critic[3] is quite sure that because the Balkan peoples "recked nothing of financial disaster," economic considerations have had nothing to do with their war—a conclusion which seems to be arrived at by the process of judgment just indicated: to find the cause of condition produced by two parties you shall rigorously ignore one. For there is a great deal of internal evidence for believing that the writer of the article in question would admit very readily that the efforts of the Turk to wring taxes out of the conquered peoples—not in return for a civilized administration but simply as the means of livelihood, of turning conquest into a trade—had a very great deal to do in explaining the Turk's presence there at all and the Christian's desire to get rid of him; while the same article specifically states that the mutual jealousies of the great powers, based on a desire to "grab" (an economic motive), had a great deal to do with preventing a peaceful settlement of the difficulties. Yet "economics" have nothing to do with it!

I have attempted elsewhere to make these two points—that it is on the one hand the false economics of the Turks, and on the other hand the false economics of the powers of Europe, colouring the policy and Statecraft of both, which have played an enormous, in all human probability, a determining role in the immediate provoking cause of the war; and, of course, a further and more remote cause of the whole difficulty is the fact that the Balkan peoples never having been subjected to the discipline of that complex social life which arises from trade and commerce have never grown out of (or to a less degree) those primitive racial and religious hostilities which at one time in Europe as a whole provoked conflicts like that now raging in the Balkans. The following article which appeared[4] at the outbreak of the war may summarise some of the points with which we have been dealing.

Polite and good-natured people think it rude to say "Balkans" if a Pacifist be present. Yet I never understood why, and I understand now less than ever. It carries the implication that because war has broken out that fact disposes of all objection to it. The armies are at grips, therefore peace is a mistake. Passion reigns on the Balkans, therefore passion is preferable to reason.

I suppose cannibalism and infanticide, polygamy, judicial torture, religious persecution, witchcraft, during all the years we did these "inevitable" things, were defended in the same way, and those who resented all criticism of them pointed in triumph to the cannibal feast, the dead child, the maimed witness, the slain heretic, or the burned witch. But the fact did not prove the wisdom of those habits, still less their inevitability; for we have them no more.

We are all agreed as to the fundamental cause of the Balkan trouble: the hate born of religious, racial, national, and language differences; the attempt of an alien conqueror to live parasitically upon the conquered, and the desire of conqueror and conquered alike to satisfy in massacre and bloodshed the rancour of fanaticism and hatred.

Well, in these islands, not so very long ago, those things were causes of bloodshed; indeed, they were a common feature of European life. But if they are inevitable in human relationship, how comes it that Adana is no longer duplicated by St. Bartholomew; the Bulgarian bands by the vendetta of the Highlander and the Lowlander; the struggle of the Slav and Turk, Serb and Bulgar, by that of Scots and English, and English and Welsh? The fanaticism of the Moslem to-day is no intenser than that of Catholic and heretic in Rome, Madrid, Paris, and Geneva at a time which is only separated from us by the lives of three or four elderly men. The heretic or infidel was then in Europe also a thing unclean and horrifying, exciting in the mind of the orthodox a sincere and honest hatred and a (very largely satisfied) desire to kill. The Catholic of the 16th century was apt to tell you that he could not sit at table with a heretic because the latter carried with him a distinctive and overpoweringly repulsive odour. If you would measure the distance Europe has travelled, think what this means: all the nations of Christendom united in a war lasting 200 years for the capture of the Holy Sepulchre; and yet, when in our day the representatives, seated round a table, could have had it for the asking, they did not deem it worth the asking, so little of the ancient passion was there left. The very nature of man seemed to be transformed. For, wonderful though it be that orthodox should cease killing heretic, infinitely more wonderful still is it that he should cease wanting to kill him.

And just as most of us are certain that the underlying causes of this conflict are "inevitable" and "inherent in unchanging human nature," so are we certain that so unhuman a thing as economics can have no bearing on it.

Well, I will suggest that the transformation of the heretic-hating and heretic-killing European is due mainly to economic forces; that it is because the drift of those forces has in such large part left the Balkans, where until yesterday the people lived the life not much different from that which they lived in the time of Abraham, to one side that war is now raging; that economic factors of a more immediate kind form a large part of the provoking cause of that war; and that a better understanding mainly of certain economic facts of their international relationship on the part of the great nations of Europe is essential before much progress towards solution can be made.

But then, by "economics," of course, I mean not a merchant's profit or a moneylender's interest, but the method by which men earn their bread, which must also mean the kind of life they lead.

We generally think of the primitive life of man—that of the herdsman or the tent liver—as something idyllic. The picture is as far as possible from the truth. Those into whose lives economics do not enter, or enter very little—that is to say, those who, like the Congo cannibal, or the Red Indian, or the Bedouin, do not cultivate, or divide their labour, or trade, or save, or look to the future, have shed little of the primitive passions of other animals of prey, the tigers and the wolves, who have no economics at all, and have no need to check an impulse or a hate. But industry, even of the more primitive kind, means that men must divide their labour, which means that they must put some sort of reliance upon one another; the thing of prey becomes a partner, and the attitude towards it changes. And as this life becomes more complex, as the daily needs and desires push men to trade and barter, that means building up a social organisation, rules and codes, and courts to enforce them; as the interdependence widens and deepens it necessarily means disregarding certain hostilities. If the neighbouring tribe wants to trade with you they must not kill you; if you want the services of the heretic you must not kill him, and you must keep your obligation towards him, and mutual good faith is death to long-sustained hatreds.

You cannot separate the moral from the social and economic development of a people, and the great service of a complex social and industrial organisation, which is built up by the desire of men for better material conditions, is not that it "pays" but that it makes a more interdependent human society, and that it leads men to recognise what is the best relationship between them. And the fact of recognising that some act of aggression is causing stocks to fall is not important because it may save Oppenheim's or Solomon's money but because it is a demonstration that we are dependent upon some community on the other side of the world, that their damage is our damage, and that we have an interest in preventing it. It teaches us, as only some such simple and mechanical means can teach, the lesson of human fellowship.

And it is by such means as this that Western Europe has in some measure, within its respective political frontiers, learnt that lesson. Each has learnt, within the confines of the nation at least, that wealth is made by work, not robbery; that, indeed, general robbery is fatal to prosperity; that government consists not merely in having the power of the sword but in organising society—in "knowing how"; which means the development of ideas; in maintaining courts; in making it possible to run railways, post offices, and all the contrivances of a complex society.

Now rulers did not create these things; it was the daily activities of the people, born of their desires and made possible by the circumstances in which they lived, by the trading and the mining and the shipping which they carried on, that made them. But the Balkans have been geographically outside the influence of European industrial and commercial life. The Turk has hardly felt it at all. He has learnt none of the social and moral lessons which interdependence and improved communications have taught the Western European, and it is because he has not learnt these lessons, because he is a soldier and a conqueror, to an extent and completeness that other nations of Europe lost a generation or two since, that the Balkanese are fighting and that war is raging.

But not merely in this larger sense, but in the more immediate, narrower sense, are the fundamental causes of this war economic.

This war arises, as the past wars against the Turkish conqueror have arisen, by the desire of the Christian peoples on whom he lives to shake off this burden. "To live upon their subjects is the Turks' only means of livelihood," says one authority. The Turk is an economic parasite, and the economic organism must end of rejecting him.

For the management of society, simple and primitive even as that of the Balkan mountains, needs some effort and work and capacity for administration, or even rudimentary economic life cannot be carried on. And the Turkish system, founded on the sword and nothing else ("the finest soldier in Europe"), cannot give that small modicum, of energy or administrative capacity. The one thing he knows is brute force; but it is not by the strength of his muscles that an engineer runs a machine, but by knowing how. The Turk cannot build a road, or make a bridge, or administer a post office, or found a court of law. And these things are necessary. And he will not let them be done by the Christian, who, because he did not belong to the conquering class, has had to work, and has consequently become the class which possesses whatever capacity for work and administration the country can show, because to do so would be to threaten the Turk's only trade. If the Turk granted the Christians equal political rights they would inevitably "run the country," And yet the Turk himself cannot do it; and he will not let others do it, because to do so would be to threaten his supremacy.

And the more the use of force fails, the more, of course, does he resort to it, and that is why many of us who do not believe in force, and desire to see it disappear in the relationship not merely of religious but of political groups, might conceivably welcome this war of the Balkan Christians, in so far as it is an attempt to resist the use of force in those relationships. Of course, I do not try to estimate the "balance of criminality." Right is not all on one side—it never is. But the broad issue is clear and plain. And only those concerned with the name rather than the thing, with nominal and verbal consistency rather than realities, will see anything paradoxical or contradictory in Pacifist approval of Christian resistance to the use of Turkish force.

It is the one fact which stands out incontrovertibly from the whole weary muddle. It is quite clear that the inability to act in common arises from the fact that in the international sphere the European is still dominated by illusions which he has dropped when he deals with home politics. The political faith of the Turk, which he would never think of applying at home as between the individuals of his nation, he applies pure and unalloyed when he comes to deal with foreigners as nations. The economic conception—using the term in that wider sense which I have indicated earlier in this article—which guides his individual conduct is the antithesis of that which guides his national conduct.

While the Christian does not believe in robbery inside the frontier, he does without; while within the State he realises that greater advantage lies on the side of each observing the general code, so that civilised society can exist, instead of on the side of having society go to pieces by each disregarding it; while within the State he realises that government is a matter of administration, not the seizure of property; that one town does not add to its wealth by "capturing" another, that indeed one community cannot "own" another—while, I say, he believes all these things in his daily life at home, he disregards them all when he comes to the field of international relationship, la haute politique. To annex some province by a cynical breach of treaty obligation (Austria in Bosnia, Italy in Tripoli) is regarded as better politics than to act loyally with the community of nations to enforce their common interest in order and good government. In fact, we do not believe that there can be a community of nations, because, in fact, we do not believe that their interests are common, but rival; like the Turk, we believe that if you do not exercise force upon your "rival" he will exercise it upon you; that nations live upon one another, not by co-operation with one another—and it is for this reason presumably that you must "own" as much of your neighbours' as possible. It is the Turkish conception from beginning to end.

And it is because these false beliefs prevent the nations of Christendom acting loyally the one to the other, because each is playing for its own hand, that the Turk, with hint of some sordid bribe, has been able to play off each against the other.

This is the crux of the matter. When Europe can honestly act in common on behalf of common interests some solution can be found. And the capacity of Europe to act together will not be found so long as the accepted doctrines of European statecraft remain unchanged, so long as they are dominated by existing illusions.

* * * * *

In a paper read before the British Association of this year, I attempted to show in more general terms this relation between economic impulse and ideal motive. The following are relevant passages:—

A nation, a people, we are given to understand, have higher motives than money, or "self-interest." What do we mean when we speak of the money of a nation, or the self-interest of a community? We mean—and in such a discussion as this can mean nothing else—better conditions for the great mass of the people, the fullest possible lives, the abolition or attenuation of poverty and of narrow circumstances, that the millions shall be better housed and clothed and fed, capable of making provision for sickness and old age, with lives prolonged and cheered—and not merely this, but also that they shall be better educated, with character disciplined by steady labour and a better use of leisure, a general social atmosphere which shall make possible family affection, individual dignity and courtesy and the graces of life, not alone among the few, but among the many.

Now, do these things constitute as a national policy an inspiring aim or not? Yet they are, speaking in terms of communities, pure self-interest—all bound up with economic problems, with money. Does Admiral Mahan mean us to take him at his word when he would attach to such efforts the same discredit that one implies in talking of a mercenary individual? Would he have us believe that the typical great movements of our times—Socialism, Trades Unionism, Syndicalism, Insurance Bills, Land Laws, Old Age Pensions, Charity Organisation, Improved Education—bound up as they all are with economic problems—are not the sort of objects which more and more are absorbing the best activities of Christendom?

I have attempted to show that the activities which lie outside the range of these things—the religious wars, movements like those which promoted the Crusades, or the sort of tradition which we associate with the duel (which has, in fact, disappeared from Anglo-Saxon society)—do not and cannot any longer form part of the impulse creating the long-sustained conflicts between large groups which a European war implies, partly because such allied moral differences as now exist do not in any way coincide with the political divisions, but intersect them, and partly because in the changing character of men's ideals there is a distinct narrowing of the gulf which is supposed to separate ideal and material aims. Early ideals, whether in the field of politics or religion, are generally dissociated from any aim of general well-being. In early politics ideals are concerned simply with personal allegiance to some dynastic chief, a feudal lord or a monarch. The well-being of a community does not enter into the matter at all: it is the personal allegiance which matters. Later the chief must embody in his person that well-being, or he does not achieve the allegiance of a community of any enlightenment; later, the well-being of the community becomes the end in itself without being embodied in the person of an hereditary chief, so that the community realise that their efforts, instead of being directed to the protection of the personal interests of some chief, are as a matter of fact directed to the protection of their own interests, and their altruism has become self-interest, since self-sacrifice of a community for the sake of the community is a contradiction in terms. In the religious sphere a like development has been shown. Early religious ideals have no relation to the material betterment of mankind. The early Christian thought it meritorious to live a sterile life at the top of a pillar, eaten by vermin, as the Hindoo saint to-day thinks it meritorious to live an equally sterile life upon a bed of spikes. But as the early Christian ideal progressed, sacrifices having no end connected with the betterment of mankind lost their appeal. The Christian saint who would allow the nails of his fingers to grow through the palms of his clasped hands would excite, not our admiration, but our revolt. More and more is religious effort being subjected to this test: does it make for the improvement of society? If not, it stands condemned. Political ideals will inevitably follow a like development, and will be more and more subjected to a like test.

I am aware that very often at present they are not so subjected. Dominated as our political thought is by Roman and feudal imagery—hypnotised by symbols and analogies which the necessary development of organised society has rendered obsolete—the ideals even of democracies are still often pure abstractions, divorced from any aim calculated to advance the moral or material betterment of mankind. The craze for sheer size of territory, simple extent of administrative area, is still deemed a thing deserving immense, incalculable sacrifices.

* * * * *

And yet even these ideals, firmly set as they are in our language and tradition, are rapidly yielding to the necessary force of events. A generation ago it would have been inconceivable that a people or a monarch should calmly see part of its country secede and establish itself as a separate political entity without attempting to prevent it by force of arms. Yet this is what happened but a year or two since in the Scandinavian peninsula. For forty years Germany has added to her own difficulties and those of the European situation for the purpose of including Alsace and Lorraine in its Federation, but even there, obeying the tendency which is world-wide, an attempt has been made at the creation of a constitutional and autonomous government. The history of the British Empire for fifty years has been a process of undoing the work of conquest. Colonies are now neither colonies nor possessions. They are independent States. Great Britain, which for centuries has made such sacrifices to retain Ireland, is now making great sacrifices in order to make her secession workable. To all political arrangements, to all political ideals, the final test will be applied: Does it or does it not make for the widest interests of the mass of the people involved?... And I would ask those who think that war must be a permanent element in the settlement of the moral differences of men to think for one moment of the factors which stood in the way of the abandonment of the use of force by governments, and by one religious group against another in the matter of religious belief. On the one hand you had authority with all the prestige of historical right and the possession of physical power in its most imposing form, the means of education still in their hands; government authority extending to all sorts of details of life to which it no longer extends; immense vested interests outside government; and finally the case for the imposition of dogma by authority a strong one, and still supported by popular passion: and on the other hand, you had as yet poor and feeble instruments of mere opinion; the printed book still a rarity; the Press non-existent, communication between men still rudimentary, worse even than it had been two thousand years previously. And yet, despite these immense handicaps upon the growth of opinion and intellectual ferment as against physical force, it was impossible for a new idea to find life in Geneva or Rome or Edinburgh or London without quickly crossing and affecting all the other centres, and not merely making headway against entrenched authority, but so quickly breaking up the religious homogeneity of states, that not only were governments obliged to abandon the use of force in religious matters as against their subjects, but religious wars between nations became impossible for the double reason that a nation no longer expressed a single religious belief (you had the anomaly of a Protestant Sweden fighting in alliance with a Catholic France), and that the power of opinion had become stronger than the power of physical force—because, in other words, the limits of military force were more and more receding.

But if the use of force was so ineffective against the spiritual possessions of man when the arms to be used in their defence were so poor and rudimentary, how could a government hope to crush out by force to-day such things as a nation's language, law, literature, morals, ideals, when it possesses such means of defence as are provided in security of tenure of material possessions, a cheap literature, a popular Press, a cheap and secret postal system, and all the other means of rapid and perfected inter-communication?

You will notice that I have spoken throughout not of the defence of a national ideal by arms, but of its attack; if you have to defend your ideal it is because someone attacks it, and without attack your defence would not be called for.

If you are compelled to prevent someone using force as against your nationality, it is because he believes that by the use of that force he can destroy or change it. If he thought that the use of force would be ineffective to that end he would not employ it.

I have attempted to show elsewhere that the abandonment of war for material ends depends upon a general realisation of its futility for accomplishing those ends. In like manner does the abandonment of war for moral or ideal ends depend upon the general realisation of the growing futility of such means for those ends also—and for the growing futility of those ends if they could be accomplished.

We are sometimes told that it is the spirit of nationality—the desire to be of your place and locality—that makes war. That is not so. It is the desire of other men that you shall not be of your place and locality, of your habits and traditions, but of theirs. Not the desire of nationality, but the desire to destroy nationality is what makes the wars of nationality. If the Germans did not think that the retention of Polish or Alsatian nationality might hamper them in the art of war, hamper them in the imposition of force on some other groups, there would be no attempt to crush out this special possession of the Poles and Alsatians. It is the belief in force and a preference for settling things by force instead of by agreement that threatens or destroys nationality. And I have given an indication of the fact that it is not merely war, but the preparation for war, implying as it does great homogeneity in states and centralised bureaucratic control, which is to-day the great enemy of nationality. Before this tendency to centralisation which military necessity sets up much that gives colour and charm to European life is disappearing. And yet we are told that it is the Pacifists who are the enemy of nationality, and we are led to believe that in some way the war system in Europe stands for the preservation of nationality!

[Footnote 3: Review of Reviews, November, 1912.]

[Footnote 4: In the "Daily Mail," to whose Editor I am indebted for permission to reprint it.]



CHAPTER IV.

TURKISH IDEALS IN OUR POLITICAL THOUGHT.

This war and "the Turks of Britain and Prussia"—The Anglo-Saxon and opposed ideals—Mr. C. Chesterton's case for "killing and being killed" as the best method of settling differences—Its application to Civil Conflicts—As in Spanish-America—The difference between Devonshire and Venezuela—Will the Balkans adopt the Turco-Venezuelan political ideals or the British?

An English political writer remarked, on it becoming evident that the Christian States were driving back the Turks: "This is a staggering blow to all the Turks—those of England and Prussia as well as those of Turkey."

But, of course, the British and Prussian Turks will never see it—like the Bourbons, they learn not. Here is a typically military system, the work of "born fighters" which has gone down in welter before the assaults of much less military States, the chief of which, indeed, has grown up in what Captain von Herbert has called, with some contempt, "stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions," formed by the people whom the Turks regarded as quite unfit to be made into warriors; whom they regarded much as some Europeans regard the Jews. It is the Christian populations of the Balkans who were the traders and workers—those brought most under economic influences; it was the Turks who escaped those influences. A few years since, I wrote: "If the conqueror profits much by his conquest, as the Romans in one sense did, it is the conqueror who is threatened by the enervating effect of the soft and luxurious life; while it is the conquered who are forced to labour for the conqueror, and who learn in consequence those qualities of steady industry which are certainly a better moral training than living upon the fruits of others, upon labour extorted at the sword's point. It is the conqueror who becomes effete, and it is the conquered who learn discipline and the qualities making for a well-ordered State."

Could we ask a better illustration than the history of the Turk and his Christian victims? I exemplified the matter thus: "If during long periods a nation gives itself up to war, trade languishes, the population loses the habit of steady industry, government and administration become corrupt, abuses escape punishment, and the real sources of a people's strength and expansion dwindle. What has caused the relative failure and decline of Spanish, Portuguese, and French expansion in Asia and the New World, and the relative success of English expansion therein? Was it the mere hazards of war which gave to Great Britain the domination of India and half of the New World? That is surely a superficial reading of history. It was, rather, that the methods and processes of Spain, Portugal, and France were military, while those of the Anglo-Saxon world were commercial and peaceful. Is it not a commonplace that in India, quite as much as in the New World, the trader and the settler drove out the soldier and the conqueror? The difference between the two methods was that one was a process of conquest, and the other of colonizing, or non-military administration for commercial purposes. The one embodied the sordid Cobdenite idea, which so excites the scorn of the militarists, and the other the lofty military ideal. The one was parasitism; the other co-operation....

"How may we sum up the whole case, keeping in mind every empire that ever existed—the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Mede and Persian, the Macedonian, the Roman, the Frank, the Saxon, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Bourbon, the Napoleonic? In all and every one of them we may see the same process, which is this: If it remains military it decays; if it prospers and takes its share of the work of the world it ceases to be military. There is no other reading of history."

But despite these very plain lessons, there are many amongst us who regard physical conflict as the ideal form of human relationship; "killing and being killed" as the best way to determine the settlement of differences, and a society which drifts from these ideals as on the high road to degeneration, and who deem those who set before themselves the ideal of abolishing or attenuating poverty for the mass of men, "low and sordid."

Thus Mr. Cecil Chesterton[5]:

In essence Mr. Angell's query is: "Should usurers go to war?"

I may say, in passing, that I am not clear that even on the question thus raised Mr. Angell makes out his case. His case, broadly stated, is that the net of "Finance"—or, to put it plainer, Cosmopolitan Usury—which is at present spread over Europe would be disastrously torn by any considerable war; and that in consequence it is to the interest of the usurers to preserve peace. But here, it seems to me, we must make a clear differentiation. It may easily be to the interest of a particular usurer, or group of usurers, to provoke war; that very financial crisis which Mr. Angell anticipates may quite probably be a source of profit to them. That it would not be to the interest of a nation of usurers to fight is very probable. That such a nation would not fight, or, if it did, would be exceedingly badly beaten, is certain. But that only serves to raise the further question of whether it is to the ultimate advantage of a nation to repose upon usury; and whether the breaking of the net of usury which at present unquestionably holds Europe in captivity would not be for the advantage, as it would clearly be for the honour, of our race.... The sword is too sacred a thing to be prostituted to such dirty purposes. But whether he succeeds or fails in this attempt, it will make no difference to the mass of plain men who, when they fight and risk their lives, do not do so in the expectation of obtaining a certain interest on their capital, but for quite other reasons.

Mr. Angell's latest appeal comes, I think, at an unfortunate moment. It is not merely that the Balkan States have refused to be convinced by Mr. Angell as to their chances of commercial profit from the war. It is that if Mr. Angell had succeeded to the fullest extent in convincing them that there was not a quarter per cent. to be made out of the war, nay, that—horrible thought!—they would actually be poorer at the end of the war than at the beginning, they would have gone to war all the same.

Since Mr. Angell's argument clearly applies as much or more to civil as to international conflicts, I may perhaps be allowed to turn to civil conflicts to make clear my meaning. In this country during the last three centuries one solid thing has been done. The power of Parliament was pitted in battle against the power of the Crown, and won. As a result, for good or evil, Parliament really is stronger than the Crown to-day. The power of the mass of the people to control Parliament has been given as far as mere legislation could give it. We all know that it is a sham. And if you ask what it is that makes the difference of reality between the two cases, it is this: that men killed and were killed for the one thing and not for the other.

I have no space to develop all that I should like to say about the indirect effects of war. All I will say is this, that men do judge, and always will judge, things by the ultimate test of how they fight. The German victory of forty years ago has produced not only an astonishing expansion, industrial as well as political of Germany, but has (most disastrously, as I think) infected Europe with German ideas, especially with the idea that you make a nation strong by making its people behave like cattle. God send that I may live to see the day when victorious armies from Gaul shall shatter this illusion, burn up Prussianism with all its Police Regulations, Insurance Acts, Poll Taxes, and insults to the poor, and reassert the Republic. It will never be done in any other way.

If arbitration is ever to take the place of war, it must be backed by a corresponding array of physical force. Now the question immediately arises: Are we prepared to arm any International Tribunal with any such powers? Personally, I am not.... Turn back some fifty years to the great struggle for the emancipation of Italy. Suppose that a Hague Tribunal had then been in existence, armed with coercive powers. The dispute between Austria and Sardinia must have been referred to that tribunal. That tribunal must have been guided by existing treaties. The Treaty of Vienna was perhaps the most authoritative ever entered into by European Powers. By that treaty, Venice and Lombardy were unquestionably assigned to Austria. A just tribunal administering international law must have decided in favour of Austria, and have used the whole armed force of Europe to coerce Italy into submission. Are those Pacifists, who try at the same time to be Democrats, prepared to acquiesce in such a conclusion? Personally, I am not.

I replied as follows:

Mr. Cecil Chesterton says that the question which I have raised is this: "Should usurers go to war?"

That, of course, is not true. I have never, even by implication, put such a problem, and there is nothing in the article which he criticises, nor in any other statement of my own, that justifies it. What I have asked is whether peoples should go to war.

I should have thought it was pretty obvious that, whatever happens, usurers do not go to war: the peoples go to war, and the peoples pay, and the whole question is whether they should go on making war and paying for it. Mr. Chesterton says that if they are wise they will; I say that if they are wise they will not.

I have attempted to show that the prosperity of peoples—by which, of course, one means the diminution of poverty, better houses, soap and water, healthy children, lives prolonged, conditions sufficiently good to ensure leisure and family affection, fuller and completer lives generally—is not secured by fighting one another, but by co-operation and labour, by a better organisation of society, by improved human relationship, which, of course, can only come of better understanding of the conditions of that relationship, which better understanding means discussion, adjustment, a desire and capacity to see the point of view of the other man—of all of which war and its philosophy is the negation.

To all of this Mr. Chesterton replies: "That only concerns the Jews and the moneylenders." Again, this is not true. It concerns all of us, like all problems of our struggle with Nature. It is in part at least an economic problem, and that part of it is best stated in the more exact and precise terms that I have employed to deal with it—the term's of the market-place. But to imply that the conditions that there obtain are the affair merely of bankers and financiers, to imply that these things do not touch the lives of the mass, is simply to talk a nonsense the meaninglessness of which only escapes some of us because in these matters we happen to be very ignorant. It is not mainly usurers who suffer from bad finance and bad economics (one may suggest that they are not quite so simple); it is mainly the people as a whole.

Mr. Chesterton says that we should break this "net of usury" in which the peoples are enmeshed. I agree heartily; but that net has been woven mainly by war (and that diversion of energy and attention from social management which war involves), and is, so far as the debts of the European States are concerned (so large an element of usury), almost solely the outcome of war. And if the peoples go on piling up debt, as they must if they are to go on piling up armaments (as Mr. Chesterton wants them to), giving the best of their attention and emotion to sheer physical conflict, instead of to organisation and understanding, they will merely weave that web of debt and usury still closer; it will load us more heavily and strangle us to a still greater extent. If usury is the enemy, the remedy is to fight usury. Mr. Chesterton says the remedy is for its victims to fight one another.

And you will not fight usury by hanging Rothschilds, for usury is worst where that sort of thing is resorted to. Widespread debt is the outcome of bad management and incompetence, economic or social, and only better management will remedy it. Mr. Chesterton is sure that better management is only arrived at by "killing and being killed." He really does urge this method even in civil matters. (He tells us that the power of Parliament over the Crown is real, and that of the people over Parliament a sham, "because men killed and were killed for the one, and not for the other.") It is the method of Spanish America where it is applied more frankly and logically, and where still, in many places, elections are a military affair, the questions at issue being settled by killing and being killed, instead of by the cowardly, pacifist methods current in Europe. The result gives us the really military civilisations of Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. And, although the English system may have many defects—I think it has—those defects exist in a still greater degree where force "settles" the matters in dispute, where the bullet replaces the ballot, and where bayonets are resorted to instead of brains. For Devonshire is better than Nicaragua. Really it is. And it would get us out of none of our troubles for one group to impose its views simply by preponderant physical force, for Mr. Asquith, for instance, in the true Castro or Zuyala manner, to announce that henceforth all critics of the Insurance Act are to be shot, and that the present Cabinet will hold office as long as it can depend upon the support of the Army. For, even if the country rose in rebellion, and fought it out and won, the successful party would (if they also believed in force) do exactly the same thing to their opponents; and so it would go on never-endingly (as it has gone on during weary centuries throughout the larger part of South America), until the two parties came once more to their senses, and agreed not to use force when they happened to be able to do so; which is our present condition. But it is the condition of England merely because the English, as a whole, have ceased to believe in Mr. Chesterton's principles; it is not yet the condition of Venezuela because the Venezuelans have not yet ceased to believe those principles, though even they are beginning to.

Mr. Chesterton says: "Men do judge, and always will judge, by the ultimate test of how they fight." The pirate who gives his blood has a better right, therefore, to the ship than the merchant (who may be a usurer!) who only gives his money. Well, that is the view which was all but universal well into the period of what, for want of a better word, we call civilisation. Not only was it the basis of all such institutions as the ordeal and duel; not only did it justify (and in the opinion of some still justifies) the wars of religion and the use of force in religious matters generally; not only was it the accepted national polity of such communities as the Vikings, the Barbary States, and the Red Indians; but it is still, unfortunately, the polity of certain European states. But the idea is a survival and—and this is the important point—an admission of failure to understand where right lies: to "fight it out" is the remedy of the boy who for the life of him cannot see who is right and who is wrong.

At ten years of age we are all quite sure that piracy is a finer calling than trade, and the pirate a finer fellow than the Shylock who owns the ship—which, indeed, he may well be. But as we grow up (which some of the best of us never do) we realise that piracy is not the best way to establish the ownership of cargoes, any more than the ordeal is the way to settle cases at law, or the rack of proving a dogma, or the Spanish American method the way to settle differences between Liberals and Conservatives.

And just as civil adjustments are made most efficiently, as they are in England (say), as distinct from South America, by a general agreement not to resort to force, so it is the English method in the international field which gives better results than that based on force. The relationship of Great Britain to Canada or Australia is preferable to the relationship of Russia to Finland or Poland, or Germany to Alsace-Lorraine. The five nations of the British Empire have, by agreement, abandoned the use of force as between themselves. Australia may do us an injury—exclude our subjects, English or Indian, and expose them to insult—but we know very well that force will not be used against her. To withhold such force is the basis of the relationship of these five nations; and, given a corresponding development of ideas, might equally well be the basis of the relationship of fifteen—about all the nations of the world who could possibly fight. The difficulties Mr. Chesterton imagines—an international tribunal deciding in favour of Austria concerning the recession of Venice and Lombardy, and summoning the forces of United Europe to coerce Italy into submission—are, of course, based on the assumption that a United Europe, having arrived at such understanding as to be able to sink its differences, would be the same kind of Europe that it is now, or was a generation ago. If European statecraft advances sufficiently to surrender the use of force against neighbouring states, it will have advanced sufficiently to surrender the use of force against unwilling provinces, as in some measure British statesmanship has already done. To raise the difficulty that Mr. Chesterton does is much the same as assuming that a court of law in San Domingo or Turkey will give the same results as a court of law in Great Britain, because the form of the mechanism is the same. And does Mr. Chesterton suggest that the war system settles these matters to perfection? That it has worked satisfactorily in Ireland and Finland, or, for the matter of that, in Albania or Macedonia?

For if Mr. Chesterton urges that killing and being killed is the way to determine the best means of governing a country, it is his business to defend the Turk, who has adopted that principle during four hundred years, not the Christians, who want to bring that method to an end and adopt another. And I would ask no better example of the utter failure of the principles that I combat and Mr. Chesterton defends than their failure in the Balkan Peninsula.

This war is due to the vile character of Turkish rule, and the Turk's rule is vile because it is based on the sword. Like Mr. Chesterton (and our pirate), the Turk believes in the right of conquest, "the ultimate test of how they fight." "The history of the Turks," says Sir Charles Elliott, "is almost exclusively a catalogue of battles." He has lived (for the most gloriously uneconomic person has to live, to follow a trade of some sort, even if it be that of theft) on tribute exacted from the Christian populations, and extorted, not in return for any work of administration, but simply because he was the stronger. And that has made his rule intolerable, and is the cause of this war.

Now, my whole thesis is that understanding, work, co-operation, adjustment, must be the basis of human society; that conquest as a means of achieving national advantage must fail; that to base your prosperity or means of livelihood, your economic system, in short, upon having more force than someone else, and exercising it against him, is an impossible form of human relationship that is bound to break down. And Mr. Chesterton says that the war in the Balkans demolishes this thesis. I do not agree with him.

The present war in the Balkans is an attempt—and happily a successful one—to bring this reign of force and conquest to an end, and that is why those of us who do not believe in military force rejoice.

The debater, more concerned with verbal consistency than realities and the establishment of sound principles, will say that this means the approval of war. It does not; it merely means the choice of the less evil of two forms of war. War has been going on in the Balkans, not for a month, but has been waged by the Turks daily against these populations for 400 years.

The Balkan peoples have now brought to an end a system of rule based simply upon the accident of force—"killing and being killed." And whether good or ill comes of this war will depend upon whether they set up a similar system or one more in consonance with pacifist principles. I believe they will choose the latter course; that is to say, they will continue to co-operate between themselves instead of fighting between themselves; they will settle differences by discussion, adjustment, not force. But if they are guided by Mr. Chesterton's principle, if each one of the Balkan nations is determined to impose its own especial point of view, to refuse all settlement by co-operation and understanding, where it can resort to force—why, in that case, the strongest (presumably Bulgaria) will start conquering the rest, start imposing government by force, and will listen to no discussion or argument; will simply, in short, take the place of the Turk in the matter, and the old weary contest will begin afresh, and we shall have the Turkish system under a new name, until that in its turn is destroyed, and the whole process begun again da capo. And if Mr. Chesterton says that this is not his philosophy, and that he would recommend the Balkan nations to come to an understanding, and co-operate together, instead of fighting one another, why does he give different counsels to the nations of Christendom as a whole? If it is well for the Balkan peoples to abandon conflict as between themselves in favour of co-operation against the common enemy, why is it ill for the other Christian peoples to abandon such conflict in favour of co-operation against their common enemy, which is wild nature and human error, ignorance and passion.

[Footnote 5: From "Everyman" to whose Editor I am indebted for permission to print my reply.]



CHAPTER V.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR BALKAN WARS.

Mr. Winston Churchill on the "Responsibility" of Diplomacy—What does he mean?—An easy (and popular) philosophy—Can we neglect past if we would avoid future errors?—British temper and policy in the Crimean War—What are its lessons?—Why we fought a war to sustain the "integrity and independence of the Turkish dominion in Europe"—Supporting the Turk against his Christian victims—From fear of Russian growth which we are now aiding—The commentary of events—Shall we back the wrong horse again?

Here was a war which had broken out in spite of all that rulers and diplomatists could do to prevent it, a war in which the Press had had no part, a war which the whole force of the money power had been subtly and steadfastly directed to prevent, which had come upon us not through the ignorance or credulity of the people; but, on the contrary, through their knowledge of their history and their destiny.... Who is the man who is vain enough to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians and ambassadors?

Thus Mr. Churchill. It is a plea for the inevitability, not merely of war, but of a people's "destiny."

What precisely does it mean? Does it mean that the European Powers have in the past been entirely wise and honest, have never intrigued with the Turk the one against the other, have always kept good faith, have never been inspired by false political theories and tawdry and shoddy ideals, have, in short, no responsibility for the abominations that have gone on in the Balkan peninsula for a century? No one outside a lunatic asylum would urge it. But, then, that means that diplomacy has not done all it might to prevent this war. Why does Mr. Churchill say it has?

And does the passage I have quoted mean that we—that English diplomacy—has had no part in European diplomacy in the past? Have we not, on the contrary, by universal admission played a predominant role by backing the wrong horse?

But, then, that is not a popular thing to point out, and Mr. Churchill is very careful not to point it out in any way that could give justification to an unpopular view or discredit a popular one. He is, however, far too able a Cabinet Minister to ignore obvious facts, and it is interesting to note how he disposes of them. Observe the following passage:

For the drama or tragedy which is moving to its climax in the Balkans we all have our responsibilities, and none of us can escape our share of them by blaming others or by blaming the Turk. If there is any man here who, looking back over the last 35 years, thinks he knows where to fix the sole responsibility for all the procrastination and provocation, for all the jealousies and rivalries, for all the religious and racial animosities, which have worked together for this result, I do not envy him his complacency.... Whether we blame the belligerents or criticise the Powers or sit in sackcloth and ashes ourselves is absolutely of no consequence at the present moment.

Now if for this tragedy we "all have our responsibility," then what becomes of his first statement that the war is raging despite all that rulers and diplomats could do to prevent it? If the war was "inevitable," and rulers and diplomats have done all they could to prevent it, neither they nor we have any responsibility for it. He knows, of course, that it is impossible to deny that responsibility, that our errors in the past have been due not to any lack of readiness to fight or quarrel with foreign nations, but precisely to the tendency to do those things and our indisposition to set aside instinctive and reasonless jealousies and rivalries in favour of a deeper sense of responsibility and a somewhat longer vision.

But, again, this quite obvious moral, that if we have our responsibility, if, in other words, we have not done all that we might and have been led away by temper and passion, we should, in order to avoid a repetition of such errors in the future, try and see where we have erred in the past, is precisely the moral that Mr. Churchill does not draw. Again, it is not the popular line to show with any definiteness that we have been wrong. An abstract proposition that "we all have our responsibilities," is, while a formal admission of the obvious fact also at the same time, an excuse, almost a justification. You realise Mr. Churchill's method: Having made the necessary admission of fact, you immediately prevent any unpleasant (or unpopular) practical conclusion concerning our duty in the matter by talking of the "complacency" of those who would fix any real and definite part of the responsibility upon you. (Because, of course, no man, knows where lies, and no one would ever attempt to fix, the "sole" responsibility). Incidentally, one might point out to Mr. Churchill that the attempt to see the errors of past conduct and to avoid them in the future is not complacency, but that airily to dismiss our responsibility by saying that it is of "no consequence whether we sit in sackcloth and ashes" is complacency.

Mr. Churchill's idea seems to be that men should forget their errors—and commit them again. For that is what it amounts to. We cannot, indeed, undo the past, that is true; but we can prevent it being repeated. But we certainly shall not prevent such repetition if we hug the easy doctrine that we have always been right—that it is not worth while to see how our principles have worked out in practice, to take stock of our experience, and to see what results the principles we propose again to put into operation, have given.

The practical thing for us if we would avoid like errors in the future is to see where our responsibility lies—a thing which we shall never do if we are governed by the net impression which disengages itself from speeches like those of Mr. Churchill. For the net result of that speech, the impression, despite a few shrewd qualifications which do not in reality affect that net result but which may be useful later wherewith to silence critics, is that war is inevitable, a matter of "destiny," that diplomacy—the policy pursued by the respective powers—can do nothing to prevent it; that as brute force is the one and final appeal the only practical policy is to have plenty of armaments and to show a great readiness to fight; that it is futile to worry about past errors; (especially as an examination of them would go a long way to discredit the policy just indicated); that the troublesome and unpopular people who in the past happen to have kept their heads during a prevailing dementia—and whose policy happens to have been as right as that of the popular side was wrong—can be dismissed with left-handed references to "complacency," This sort of thing is popular enough, of course, but—

Well, I will take the risks of a tactic which is the exact contrary to that adopted by Mr. Churchill and would urge upon those whose patriotism is not of the order which is ready to see their country in the wrong and who do feel some responsibility for its national policy, to ask themselves these questions:

Is it true that the Powers could have prevented in large measure the abominations which Turkey has practised in the Balkans for the last half-century or so?

Has our own policy been a large factor in determining that of the Powers?

Has our own policy directly prevented in the past the triumph of the Christian populations which, despite that policy, has finally taken place?

Was our own policy at fault when we were led into a war to ensure the "integrity and independence of the Turkish dominions in Europe"?

Is the general conception of Statecraft on which that policy has been based—the "Balance of Power" which presupposes the necessary rivalry of nations and which in the past has led to oppose Russia as it is now leading to oppose Germany—sound, and has it been justified in history?

Did we give due weight to the considerations urged by the public men of the past who opposed such features of this policy as the Crimean War; was the immense popularity of that war any test of its wisdom; were the rancour, hatred and scorn poured upon those men just or deserved?

* * * * *

Now the first four of these questions have been answered by history and are answered by every one to-day in an emphatic affirmative. This is not the opinion of a Pacifist partisan. Even the Times is constrained to admit that "these futile conflicts might have ended years ago, if it had not been for the quarrels of the Western nations."[6] And as to the Crimean War, has not the greatest Conservative foreign minister of the nineteenth century admitted that "we backed the wrong horse"—and, what is far more to the point, have not events unmistakably demonstrated it?

Do we quite realise that if foreign policy had that continuity which the political pundits pretend, we should now be fighting on the side of the Turk against the Balkan States? That we have entered into solemn treaty obligations, as part of our national policy, to guarantee for ever the "integrity and independence of the Turkish dominions in Europe," that we fought a great and popular war to prevent that triumph of the Christian population which will arise as the result of the present war? That but for this policy which caused us to maintain the Turk in Europe the present war would certainly not be raging, and, what is much more to the point, that but for our policy the abominations which have provoked it and which it is its object to terminate, would so far as human reason can judge at all have been brought to an end generations since? Do we quite realise that we are in large part responsible, not merely for the war, but for the long agony of horror which have provoked it and made it necessary; that when we talk of the jealousies and rivalries of the Powers as playing so large a part in the responsibility for these things, we represent, perhaps, the chief among those jealousies and rivalries? That it is not mainly the Turk nor the Russian nor the Austrian which has determined the course of history in the Balkan peninsular since the middle of the 19th century, but we Englishmen—the country gentleman obsessed by vague theories of the Balance of Power and heaven knows what, reading his Times and barking out his preposterous politics over the dinner table? That this fatal policy was dictated simply by fear of the growth of "Russian barbarism and autocracy" and "the overshadowing of the Western nations by a country whose institutions are inimical to our own"? That while we were thus led into war by a phantom danger to our Indian possessions, we were quite blind to the real danger which threatened them, which a year or two later, in the Mutiny, nearly lost us them and which were not due to the machinations of a rival power but to our own misgovernment; that this very "barbaric growth" and expansion towards India which we fought a war to check we are now actively promoting in Persia and elsewhere by our (effective) alliance? That while as recently as fifteen years ago we would have gone to war to prevent any move of Russia towards the Indian frontier, we are to-day actually encouraging her to build a railway there? And that it is now another nation which stands as the natural barrier to Russian expansion to the West—Germany—whose power we are challenging, and that all tendencies point to our backing again the wrong horse, to our fighting with the "semi-Asiatic barbarian" (as our fathers used to call him) against the nation which has close racial and cultural affinity to our own, just as half a century since the same fatal obsession about the "Balance of Power" led us to fight with the Mohammedan in order to bolster up for half a century his anti-Christian rule.

The misreading of history in this matter is, unfortunately, not possible. The point upon which in the Crimean war the negotiations with Russia finally broke was the claim, based upon her reading of the Vienna note, to stand as religious protector of the Greek Christians in the Balkan peninsular. That was the pivot of the whole negotiations, and the war was the outcome of our support of the Turkish view—or, rather, our conduct of Turkish policy, for throughout the whole period England was conducting the Turkish negotiations; indeed, as Bright said at the time, she was carrying on the Turkish Government and ruling the Turkish Empire through her ministers in Constantinople.

I will quote a speech of the period made in the House of Commons. It was as follows:

Our opponents seem actuated by a frantic and bitter hostility to Russia, and, without considering the calamities in which they might involve this country, they have sought to urge it into a great war, as they imagined, on behalf of European freedom, and in order to cripple the resources of Russia....

The question is, whether the advantages both to Turkey and England of avoiding war altogether, would have been less than those which are likely to arise from the policy which the Government has pursued? Now, if the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton is right in saying that Turkey is a growing power, and that she has elements of strength which unlearned persons like myself know nothing about; surely no immediate, or sensible, or permanent mischief could have arisen to her from the acceptance of the Vienna note, which all the distinguished persons who agreed to it have declared to be perfectly consistent with her honour and independence. If she had been growing stronger and stronger of late years, surely she would have grown still stronger in the future, and there might have been a reasonable expectation that, whatever disadvantages she might have suffered for a time from that note, her growing strength would have enabled her to overcome them, while the peace of Europe might have been preserved. But suppose that Turkey is not a growing power, but that the Ottoman rule in Europe is tottering to its fall, I come to the conclusion that, whatever advantages were afforded to the Christian population of Turkey would have enabled them to grow more rapidly in numbers, in industry, in wealth, in intelligence, and in political power; and that, as they thus increased in influence, they would have become more able, in case any accident, which might not be far distant, occurred, to supplant the Mahommedan rule, and to establish themselves in Constantinople as a Christian State, which, I think, every man who hears me will admit is infinitely more to be desired than that the Mahommedan power should be permanently sustained by the bayonets of France and the fleets of England. Europe would thus have been at peace; for I do not think even the most bitter enemies of Russia believe that the Emperor of Russia intended last year, if the Vienna note or Prince Menchikoff's last and most moderate proposition had been accepted, to have marched on Constantinople. Indeed, he had pledged himself in the most distinct manner to withdraw his troops at once from the Principalities, if the Vienna note were accepted; and therefore in that case Turkey would have been delivered from the presence of the foe; peace would for a time have been secured for Europe; and the whole matter would have drifted on to its natural solution—which is, that the Mahommedan power in Europe should eventually succumb to the growing power of the Christian population of the Turkish territories.

Now, looking back upon what has since happened, which view shows the greater wisdom and prevision? That of the man who delivered this speech (and he was John Bright) or those against whom he spoke? To which set of principles has time given the greater justification?

Yet upon the men who resisted what we all admit, in this case at least, to have been the false theories and who supported, what we equally admit now, to have been the right principles, we poured the same sort of ferocious contempt that we are apt now spasmodically to pour upon those who, sixty years later, would prevent our drifting in the same blind fashion into a war just as futile and bound to be infinitely more disastrous—a war embodying the same "principles" supported by just the same theories and just the same arguments which led us into this other one.

I know full well the prejudice which the names I am about to cite is apt to cause. We poured out upon the men who bore them a rancour, contempt and hatred which few men in English public life have had to face. Morley, in his life of Cobden, says of these two men—Cobden and Bright:

They had, as Lord Palmerston said, the whole world against them. It was not merely the august personages of the Court, nor the illustrious veterans in Government and diplomacy, nor the most experienced politicians in Parliament, nor the powerful journalists, nor the men versed in great affairs of business. It was no light thing to confront even that solid mass of hostile judgment. But besides all this, Cobden and Mr. Bright knew that the country at large, even their trusty middle and industrial classes, had turned their faces resolutely and angrily away from them. Their own great instrument, the public meeting, was no longer theirs to wield. The army of the Nonconformists, which has so seldom been found fighting on the wrong side, was seriously divided.

Public opinion was bitterly and impatiently hostile and intractable. Mr. Bright was burnt in effigy. Cobden, at a meeting in his own constituency, after an energetic vindication of his opinions, saw resolutions carried against him. Every morning they were reviled in half the newspapers in the country as enemies of the commonwealth. They were openly told that they were traitors, and that it was a pity they could not be punished as traitors.

In the House, Lord Palmerston once began his reply by referring to Mr. Bright as "the Honourable and Reverend gentleman," Cobden rose to call him to order for this flippant and unbecoming phrase. Lord Palmerston said he would not quarrel about words. Then went on to say that he thought it right to tell Mr. Bright that his opinion was a matter of entire difference, and that he treated his censure with the most perfect indifference and contempt. On another occasion he showed the same unmannerliness to Cobden himself. Cobden had said that under certain circumstances he would fight, or if he could not fight, he would work for the wounded in the hospitals. "Well," said Lord Palmerston in reply, with the sarcasm of a schoolboy's debating society, "there are many people in this country who think that the party to which he belongs should go immediately into a hospital of a different kind, and which I shall not mention." This refined irony was a very gentle specimen of the insult and contumely which was poured upon Cobden and Mr. Bright at this time....

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